|Andrew Harris // So.|
Harris is 10-4 in dual play for the Sooners in 2015. The sophomore has started 12 matches in the No. 1 singles spot for the top-ranked Oklahoma men's tennis team.
NORMAN -- Just like countless Australian youngsters, Andrew Harris grew up knowing he wanted to play tennis. He also grew up to be incredibly good at it. In 2012, Harris won the Junior Wimbledon Championship title and also took home the title at the Roland Garros Junior French Championships.
Ranked as the No. 6 junior player in the world by the ITF, and competing in the Mecca of professional tennis, Andrew Harris had a choice to make.
“I would have just stayed in Australia and just constantly played a pro circuit,” Harris said. “I would just play a full year of pro tournaments, traveling week to week. That is the plan when you play in the Australian system. You play professional tournaments.”
A stress fracture in his back and a bulging disk at 18 ultimately made his decision. Harris would travel across the globe to come to the University of Oklahoma. He would work to get healthy, then develop his game under arguably the best coach in collegiate tennis, Oklahoma head coach John Roddick.
“During that time I realized that college was the best option,” Harris said. “Just to get healthy and get plenty of matches. In the season you get to play matches every week.”
Harris’s decision landed him on the No. 1 team in the country. Now a sophomore, this season’s OU men’s team won the 2015 ITA National Indoor Championship, broke Ohio State’s 200-match home winning streak, took home the BNP Paribas Open Collegiate Challenge title and has beaten team after team in the ITA top-25. All with Harris anchoring the team at No. 1 singles.
It's so good for them to have something to strive for.They have something they can train for and work hard for. They really love tennis because it adds another dimension to their lives.
Andrew's mother Anne Minter
Harris’s success just makes sense. He has winning tennis in his DNA. Harris’s mother Anne Minter played professionally in their home country of Australia while his father Graeme Harris coached her. Andrew’s younger sister Samantha currently plays for Duke University.
“My mom got to 23 in the world,” Harris said. “Her best result in the Grand Slams was the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in 1988. She also made the fourth round of Wimbledon twice.”
Minter reached her career-best rank of 23 in 1990. She also represented Australia in the 1988 Olympic games is Seoul, South Korea where she made it to the second round of play.
“Wimbledon was the pinnacle I think,” Minter said. “All the Grand Slams are equal, but for Australians I think Wimbledon is the favorite.”
“I played on the circuit for about 11 years.” Minter said. “I started traveling on my own when I was 17 or 18. My sister traveled with me for a few years while she was a pro as well. Then I met my husband who was a tennis coach and he started coaching me. So the last five years of my career were much better because he was able to travel with me.”
Graeme Harris coached not only Anne, but also coached Andrew and Samantha when the time came. That experience with his father is one that helped Andrew grow as a player.
“It was great,” Harris said. “It was tough at times. We definitely had our fair share of arguments where he would leave the court fed up with me or I’d walk off the court, but overall it was great.”
Graeme’s tutelage helped develop more than just one collegiate player. Samantha Harris is currently playing in her freshman year at Duke. As a junior, Samantha reached the finals of the 2010 Sydney ITF Junior International in singles and won the title in doubles. Her successful junior career landed her in Durham where she is 9-3 in dual play, mostly at No. 3 singles, for the 11-5 and 17th ranked Blue Devils.
“My brother talked about the team aspect and how it is really good to play for a team and win for a team,” Samantha said. “That made me really excited. Since playing in dual matches this season I see what he is talking about. It is a lot of fun.”
While Graeme coaches Samantha as a junior, Andrew’s brotherly influence has been essential for Samantha’s adjustment to life in America and collegiate tennis.
“I talk to her every couple of days,” Harris said. “We text. Mainly its about tennis or if not tennis then maybe schoolwork. I think it has been helpful for her because I have almost two years here.”
“It is really helpful to have a family member here going through the same things that you are,” Samantha said. “You know you have someone you can count on.”
In tennis, love means zero, but to the Harris family the love of tennis means everything.
“Both of my parents grew up playing tennis so its just been engrained in us,” Samantha said. “Tennis is part of the family”
“It’s so good for them to have something to strive for,” Minter said. “They have something they can train for and work hard for. They really love tennis because it adds another dimension to their lives.”